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What Causes Dental Anxiety and How Can You Overcome it?

As time passes, the importance of having a healthy mouth becomes indisputable. Good oral health is more than having shiny white teeth: it can improve your dietary habits, reduce tension, and significantly impact your entire body’s state. Regularly visiting a professional dental Pompano Beach office is crucial for achieving this. 

However, many patients feel uneasy about dental appointments, which keeps them from going to the dentist when they need to. To help people deal with their dental anxiety, we created this guide addressing its causes and what you can do to overcome it. 

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What Is Dental Anxiety? 

Dental anxiety is an extreme fear of the dentist. This fear stems from a perceived threat of harm associated with dentistry, be it due to negative experiences in the past or a general worry about what might happen. 

These worries emerge mostly before a dental visit, leading them to miss their appointments often. Because of that, patients with dental anxiety end up in a vicious cycle of fear:  

  1. The patient has dental fear. 
  2. They delay their visits. 
  3. Lack of preventative care leads to dental problems. 
  4. Dental fear leads to needing treatment, contributing to the patient’s uneasiness. 

Symptoms of Dental Anxiety 

There are many ways in which dental fear manifests. It could be trouble sleeping, a stomachache, or other signs of anxiety, such as:  

  • Irregular heartbeat or hypotension  
  • Crying and bouts of panic 
  • Extreme sweating  
  • Acting aggressive 
  • Feeling lightheaded  
  • Having problems falling asleep  
  • Having nausea or experiencing stomach pain 
  • Shaking or tremors  
  • Finding it difficult to focus 

Dental anxiety is more than a simple uneasiness. Many people dislike going to the dentist, yet that doesn’t stop them from keeping appointments. On the other hand, people with dental fear experience distressing symptoms that keep them from acting rationally and seeking the care they know they need. 

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Causes of Dental Anxiety 

Dental anxiety is a very common condition. In fact, 36% of the population is afraid of the dentist. Moreover, it can affect people of all ages. So, what causes it?  

  • Fear of Pain 

Many people fear the dentist because they associate most dental procedures with pain. Older media pieces, like films and series, tended to paint dental offices as grim. Nowadays, there’s sedation dentistry to ensure patients don’t feel a tick, but the negative reputation is difficult to shake. 

Disliking pain is completely normal. Dentists are well accustomed to sensible patients and have various sedation options to offer according to their needs. The issue emerges when those who experience dental anxiety are too terrified to even go to the dentist to learn more about them. 

  • Past Traumatic Dental Experiences 

Dental anxiety is frequently brought on by traumatic experiences in the past, particularly when the person was young. Children are particularly wary of dental offices, as they don’t always understand why they’re so important. If a cavity removal hurts a kid, it hurts. There’s no rationalizing that. 

Pediatric dentists today are far more sensitive to children’s feelings and recognize the value of creating a safe environment. Nevertheless, those who lack this comfort when they are younger are prone to disliking dental offices even well into adulthood. 

  • Fear of Loss of Control 

A common issue with dental procedures is the loss of control for patients. For some, sitting in a dental chair and remaining still for an hour as someone works in your mouth without letting you see what they’re doing is unthinkable.  

The same goes for patients who aren’t comfortable with an invasion of personal space. 

  • History of Generalized Anxiety Disorder 

Patients with a history of generalized anxiety disorder can extend their symptoms to dental offices. They may find it very difficult to schedule a dental appointment and go to the office. 

  • Fear of Anesthesia  

The fear of anesthesia not working keeps many patients from visiting the dental office or undergoing the dental surgery they need.  

We all have heard at least once the story of someone undergoing surgery and the anesthesia not working. There must be few things as traumatic as having to sit there, unable to move and talk, as someone performs painful procedures on your body. However, cases like these are very rare. 

Some people are also afraid of sedation dentistry for its side effects.  

How to Overcome My Dental Anxiety? 

Here are some strategies you can follow to overcome dental anxiety: 

  • Communicate Your Concerns to Your Dentist 

It’s important to be straightforward with your dentist and communicate your fears. You can even let them know of your dental anxiety when you’re scheduling an appointment. 

That way, they can take actions to facilitate the process, like providing a detailed explanation of each step. If you understand the procedure in detail, you’ll know what to expect and may feel less anxiety. 

  • Breathing exercises 

Deep breathing exercises are an excellent way to de-stress and feel more at ease. You can also do them before dental appointments to reduce stress.   

Close your eyes and take a slow, deep breath through your nose. After holding it for at least five to ten seconds, gently release the breath through your lips. Repeat this several times, and you’ll see how such a small action can completely calm your mind! 

  • Distraction 

Another way to reduce anxiety in the dental office is to have a distraction. Talk with your dentist beforehand and see if you can watch TV or listen to music during an appointment.  

You can ask a relative or friend to come with you. They can keep your attention, and their support might calm your mind. 

  • Analgesia or Sedation 

Analgesia is a class of medication used to treat pain. It can be taken to relieve pain and lower anxiety during dental visits. Nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas,” is a common tool dentists use. 

Conscious sedation is an additional option. You must take an oral sedative a few hours before your dental appointment. It will make you feel relaxed while keeping you conscious and responsive.  

  • Anxiety-relieving medication 

Some dentists may recommend a short-acting anti-anxiety medicine for patients with mild anxiety to help them feel less nervous before an appointment. The medication should be taken at least an hour before your appointment. 

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Overcome Your Dental Anxiety at Our Dental Pompano Beach Office 

Dental anxiety is more than a simple fear; it’s an irrational psychological reaction. The first step to overcoming it is understanding this and accepting it won’t suddenly go away just because you want it to.  

It’s a troublesome process you’ll have to work through, but Park Plaza Dental has a team of professionals willing to help you. If you want to learn more, give us a call! 

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If you have any questions about the services we offer, don’t hesitate to call Park Plaza Dental. Our team is here to make your next appointment a comfortable and productive one.